Not only were the songs about our shared and unpredictable mortality, but the process of making Together Tonight was an experience in how we belong together. Many of us met as strangers, even I didn’t know a few of the people who reached out asking to sing, and everyone wondered how they would fit into the project with a concept they didn’t understand but they trusted that I knew what I was doing. One thing everyone had in common was a sense of community. And a sense of adventure.
We met over eight weeks of rehearsals. With the help of our conductrix, Miss John Copping, I conveyed my vision that the vorchestra think of themselves not really as a choir or back-up singers, but as personified feelings. Yeah, I know, pretty flakey. It was a wild ride: funny, cathartic, and thrilling.
Presenting music like this – recording performances over several live concerts – was a risky concept. Combining the songs with the vorchestra singing, punctuated with my between-song banter, was untried. The singers were of varying levels of singing ability; many are accomplished popular performers, some work in music behind the scenes, some had never been on a stage or performed before. My stream of consciousness-between-song blabbering can be delightfully hilarious, but it can also go sideways, fall in the gutter, slip over the edge, traveling into weird territory while I figure out some elusive entertaining truth. I needed to get organized, not so much scripting myself but challenging myself to follow a prepared thread. No one, including me, had been involved in a project like this before.
Between songs we talked about philosophy, songwriting, and performance. The singing parts were called things like longing, loneliness, regret, anger, understanding, celebration, strength, resilience, and death. Over the rehearsals we realized how much we all felt like outsiders and how getting together brought out a strong sense of belonging. I made notes along the way about what I wanted to talk about and hoped my subconscious would do some good creative work while I concentrated on leading the vorchestra and band through.
Over three concerts with sold-out adventurous audiences, the actual performances were mind-blowing and heart-bursting experiences. Okay, that’s a lot of hyperbole but it’s hard to explain without going over the top. The vorchestra sang their hearts out, I had something to say, the audiences went along for the ride. We were totally together. All of us belonging. That’s why we called the album Together Tonight.